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FOOTBALL: I am determined to equal Pele says Cafu; BOTH COUNTRIES ARE UPBEAT AFTER THE FINAL OF WORLD CUP 2002.

Byline: MARK BRADLEY

Brazil 2

Germany 0

BRAZIL captain Cafu is determined to match Pele's three World Cup triumphs.

He revealed his goal as he celebrated his country's return to the "top of the world" thanks to the inspiration of Ronaldo.

Brazil secured their fifth World Cup trophy with this success against Germany and are due to be confirmed as the best side in the world, replacing former champions France, in the rankings released later this week.

Ronaldo exorcised the demons of the 1998 final by scoring both goals. From the depths of despair at the Stade de France, he found redemption in Yokohama.

While Geoff Hurst will forever be associated with 1966 and Diego Maradona with Argentina's triumph in 1986, the 2002 tournament will always be known as Ronaldo's World Cup.

Having won the golden boot with eight strikes in the tournament, he moved level with Pele on an overall tally of 12 World Cup goals.

Now Cafu is aiming to match the Brazilian legend, who bear-hugged his compatriots with pride as they received their winners' medals in Yokohama.

Although Cafu had just become the first player to appear in three World Cup finals - Pele missed out on the 1962 triumph due to injury - this was only his second success.

The 31-year-old Brazilian skipper declared: "This is the second World Cup final-winning team that I've played in.

"I feel that I still have a chance to go on and win yet another title with Brazil. So far only Pele has achieved this."

Cafu has endured some criticism even during this tournament but the faith of Luiz Felipe Scolari was vindicated as his captain stood on a raised platform to lift the World Cup trophy.

"I have some pain in my arms to lift the trophy so high! But it was my idea to get onto the platform as this is the place that Brazil should be - at the top of the top," he insisted.

"We believed in ourselves from the very beginning and that was so important. I am very touched, I cannot explain what is happening.

"You have no idea how I feel to be on top of the world. To the Brazilian people and those who supported Brazil from all over the world, I can only send a kiss from my heart."

While Brazil should be confirmed as the top-ranked national side in the world, Ronaldo's glowing reputation has already been fully restored despite his struggle in 1998 following a seizure.

He may have squandered three first-half chances, but he took full advantage when Oliver Kahn made his only mistake of an otherwise impressive tournament on 67 minutes into yesterday's final.

For when Kahn spilled Rivaldo's drive, Ronaldo duly swept home the rebound.

Just 12 minutes later, he had confirmed victory with a flourish after Rivaldo superbly dummied Kleberson's left-wing cross.

While admitting that scoring twice in the World Cup final was "beyond his wildest dreams", he is determined to now set himself "new goals" as he emerges from his serious injury problems.

He added: "I fought for two years to overcome my injury and I'm very glad to have scored both the goals and to help bring the fifth World Cup back to Brazil but I want to thank the whole squad.

"Having the World Cup in my hands is one of the most wonderful moments I could dream of, yet I am still ambitious for more success."

Brazil had been relative outsiders when the tournament began, given their difficulties in qualifying, but Scolari, who had always planned to step aside after the World Cup, has transformed their fortunes.

Defender Roberto Carlos declared: "Brazilian football is again respected. The secret of our success was our team spirit, the unity and the respect we had for each other as players. That brought the best out of us.

"It was necessary to be mentally strong because all the teams in this tournament had strong defences and ours has received much criticism."

WHERE THE GAME WAS WON AND LOST

BRAZIL may have taken their time, but there was little doubt over their superiority as they powered their way to a fifth World Cup success.

Germany battled bravely to make life difficult for the South Americans before the break, but eventually wilted as the brilliance of Ronaldo finally shone through. The margin of victory could, and perhaps should, have been greater, but Rudi Voller's side can take great pride in their performance in losing 2-0.

GOALKEEPERS

WITHOUT question the outstanding goalkeeper of the tournament, Oliver Kahn was again magnificent, producing two vital saves to deny Ronaldo before the break to keep his side in it.

However, it was his failure to make what was for him a relatively routine stop from Rivaldo which handed Ronaldo his first goal, although he had no chance with the second.

Brazilian goalkeepers have never been in the spotlight as much as their outfield players, but Marcos produced two top drawer saves, first to tip Oliver Neuville's blistering free-kick on to the post and then to keep out substitute Oliver Bierhoff's late strike to claim the clean sheet which laid the foundation for his side's success.

DEFENCE

BRAZIL'S much-maligned defence held firm once again as Lucio, Edmilson and Roque Junior kept the Germans at bay.

Neither Lucio nor Edmilson could resist the urge to get forward at times, but they were rarely found wanting as the Germans put them under pressure without ever really carving them apart.

To their credit, the German defence stuck to their task admirably despite needing the assistance of keeper Kahn several times before the break.

Ably marshalled by the impressive Carsten Ramelow, Thomas Linke and Christoph Metzelder turned in committed performances to keep Rivaldo and Ronaldinho relatively quiet, but Ronaldo's quality eventually shattered their resistance.

MIDFIELD

RUDI VOLLER'S tactics and the hard work of his midfielders severely limited Brazil before the break as wing-backs Torsten Frings and Marco Bode pinned Roberto Carlos and Cafu back inside their own half to provide excellent support to the frontmen.

Dietmar Hamann and Jens Jeremies gave everything as they attempted to make up for the loss of the suspended Michael Ballack, while the movement of free man Bernd Schneider proved a threat throughout.

Robbed for long periods of the surging runs of Cafu and Carlos, the onus was on the outstanding Kleberson, playing centrally alongside Gilberto Silva, to provide the link between attack and defence, and he did that to superb effect, capping a fine individual display with the run and cross from which Ronaldo sealed victory.

ATTACK

BRAZIL'S famous front three did not have things their own way, and indeed Ronaldinho and Rivaldo were contained comfortably for much of the game as the Germans got men behind the ball.

However, while it was Ronaldinho's occasional flashes of brilliance which created Ronaldo's first-half chances and Rivaldo's delicious dummy which provided his strike partner with his second goal, the hero of the hour grabbed the headlines to snatch the Golden Shoe and erase the bitter memories of his nightmare in France four years ago.

Neuville and Miroslav Klose battled manfully but enjoyed few clear-cut chances with little meaningful service.

Bierhoff was handed a good opportunity seven minutes from time when Frings crossed and he shot towards the bottom corner, but Marcos was equal to the task to deny him a consolation goal.

CAPTION(S):

TURNING POINT: Ronaldo wheels away in triumph after lashing the ball home following German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn's uncharacteristic error in the 67th minute of yesterday's final
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Jul 1, 2002
Words:1255
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